Natural variation in arbuscule development and lifespan in selected ecotypes of Medicago truncatulaarbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) symbiosis with Gigaspora gigantea
My experiments were a part of the larger Medicago HapMap project, an international research consortium that seeks to explore the genetic diversity of the model legume, Medicago truncatula and to identify novel genes involved in various biological processes, including symbiosis. I screened transcript levels of symbiosis-specific genes in 30 ecotypes of M. truncatula when colonized with the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungus, Gigaspora gigantea in order to understand the variation in AM symbiosis among these ecotypes. My mentor and I found a large amount of diversity in the transcript levels of these genes, thus showing a variation in AM symbiotic status. The data generated from this experiment will be used in future Genome Wide-Association studies including all 384 Medicago HapMap accessions to identify novel genes that play a role in AM symbiosis.